Olark CEO Reveals the Key to Connecting With Customers — Live Chat

Learn how to provide a great customer experience through live chat.

Live chat can provide the online experience your customers expect – here’s how…

The goal of most modern companies is to connect with their customers. A recent YFS Magazine article provides nice advice for connecting once you are talking to your customers. But how do you make that connection, if you never talk at all?

Photo: Ben Congleton, Co-founder and CEO at Olark
Photo: Ben Congleton, Co-founder and CEO at Olark

In the old days you could wait for a customer to walk into your store and say hello. But your store is now a web page on the Internet and your customers don’t want to pick up the phone and call you with questions. And even if all of your customers did call you at the same time, are you equipped to handle all of those questions?

As a business owner you want to engage with your customers, but you don’t want to be overwhelmed with the response. Live chat has come into it’s own as a solution that lets you talk to multiple customers at once while they browse your website. No wonder, a recent Forrester report shows a 43 percent increase in chat usage over the last three years.

For businesses that sell goods online, chat is an easy and cost-efficient way to make first contact with your customers. Through chat, companies can connect with customers while they’re still browsing and, unlike phone or email support, provide immediate answers or assistance.

More importantly, chat provides an experience that online shoppers actually enjoy. Customers want their questions answered quickly so they can checkout. No one wants to wait on hold with a few last minute questions. When customers get direct attention, they respond with dollars and delight. Our customers have experienced three times more same-store purchases and a 48 percent increase in cart size from their customers who chat before purchasing.

So, how do you provide a great customer experience through chat?


  • Be Quick

    Customers expect immediacy, so aim to respond to their first message in under 30 seconds. A few seconds more and they could be on to the next store. Use chat to answer customers quickly, even with a simple hello to get the conversation started. Answer questions and help them complete their purchase.

  • Make it Specific

    Many small businesses start by adding chat to their pricing page where most conversations lead to sales. If you’re worried about staffing, you can show chat to only customers with more than $500 in their shopping carts, or customers who are sitting on your checkout page for more than 60 seconds. Understand where chat can target bottlenecks, and help your customers streamline their decision making process.

  • Make it Personal

    Chat products, like my company Olark, provide you with added context about the customers on your site. You can see where they’re browsing, what pages they’re viewing, what’s in their cart, and whether they’re a returning customer. Your operators can use this to proactively approach someone browsing on your site and provide a more personal experience. Some companies even take this one step further, offering chat as a white glove service for their most valuable customers.

  • Be Human

    Shoppers have grown tired of scripted responses. Large call centers have made us expect a standard scripted interaction. Use chat as a way to show your company’s personality — make it fun and interesting for shoppers on your site. Bonobos.com is a perfect example. Their chat box asks, ‘Want to talk with a Ninja?’ How cool is that? And be curious when chatting with your customer! You’ll learn a lot from just asking questions and listening.

  • Don’t be Afraid to be Super Human

    Unlike phone and email support, chat lets you talk to multiple customers at once. Many chat operators can go up to four, even five conversations at once. Suddenly your operators become four to five times more powerful than their phone support counterparts. They won’t be faster than a speeding bullet, but they can deliver even more customer happiness.

These are just a few ways to start connecting with customers on chat. The beauty of chat is that it can be customized to make that connection fit your brand’s vibe. For inspiration, check out sites like Bonobos, Trunk Club and even our own site, Olark. On any of those sites, try chatting by clicking the tab in the bottom corner and saying something as simple as, “Hi – I’m just checking things out.” You’ll be talking to a real person in seconds! Think about how valuable that would be for your business.


Ben Congleton is the Co-Founder and CEO of Olark live chat. He believe that companies exist to serve customers, and build software that does just that. Connect with @Olark on Twitter.


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